Retailers have reduced their workforce for three months in a row for the first time on record, with retail employment down 0.4% in Q2 2011. That’s according to the latest British Retail Consortium-Bond Pearce Retail Employment Monitor (REM), which tracks changes and trends in retail employment. The 0.4% decline across April, May and June represents 3,100 fewer full-time jobs compared to the same period one year ago. The proportion decline was 0.7% in June, 0.4% in May and 0.2% in April. During the same period the number of retail outlets grew by 4.5%, an additional 743 shops. The fall in the numbers of jobs is heavily weighted towards non-food retailers, with both their full-time and part-time employees working fewer hours compared with the previous year. Food retailers continued to increase employment. The research found that 58% of retailers indicated they would keep staffing levels unchanged in the next three months, the same as this time last year. One in four said they would decrease staffing levels, compared with 8% this time last year. Food retailers appearing to be more confident about investing and employing more staff. Stephen Robertson, British Retail Consortium director general, said: “Most retailers continue to hold steady and almost one in five still expects to increase jobs, but a growing number are having to limit hours and reduce staff - leaving overall retail employment down on a year ago. “The split reflects the very different fortunes of retailers selling food - a must-have for customers - and those servicing discretionary and big ticket spending. “These figures show the sector’s crucial role in providing jobs, especially for the under 25s, can’t be taken for granted. “With the latest GDP data showing how weak the recovery is, the Government needs to act quickly. It must implement its Growth Strategy, particularly reducing government-generated costs from regulation, inconsistent enforcement, business rates and new employment law measures. Large and medium sized companies need the same moratorium on new regulation as the smallest firms.”

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